Pacification of the Harakien Sector

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Fabricediallodescends.jpgThis article is about a battle in the /tg/ Heresy project, a fan re-working of the Warhammer 40k universe.

Relations between the Imperium of Mankind and the Harakien Eldar Empire had sparked into violent conflict at their first meeting and with each year the fighting grew more intense. Lulled into complacency by their previous dealings with humans, the Harakiens completely underestimated the strength of the Imperium. Although the Eldar's early skirmishes with the Imperial Army were inconclusive, the Xenos were humbled by the arrival of Space Marines. Injury followed insult when, in the eighteenth decade of the Great Crusade, the Primarch Gaspard Lumey led his Winged Victory in a massive assault on the realm of Ku'Motsk, the Void King.

Background[edit]

Pacification of the Harakien Sector
Date 973-976.M30
Scale Sector-wide
Theatre Harakien Sector
Status Imperial victory
Belligerents
The Imperium of Mankind The Harakien Eldar Empire
Commanders and Leaders
Gaspard Lumey
Antoine Antonelle
Augustin Carron
Kesh Kanak
Ku'Motsk, the Void King
Strength
Substantial forces from the Fifth Legion supported by the Imperial Army The Harakien Imperial Fleet
Losses
within expected tolerances severe losses
Outcome
Harakien sector brought into the Imperium, Ku'Motsk's forces retreat to the Webway

Mate, it was a fair yakka lugging our kit through the bush even without the blue with the Rakkies. If you hadn't arrived when you did, we'd all be cactus.

- Sergeant Tony Hanson, 38th Auron Infantries

The Harakiens' first encounter with the Imperium was on the Feral World of Destino in 964.M30. Winged Victory had just departed the newly-pacified world, leaving behind a garrison of Imperial Army troops. Much of the garrison was second- or third-line regiments, but among their number were the veterans of 38th Auron Infantry. Unbeknownst to the Imperium of man, the 6th Division of the Harakien Fleet drifted toward the planet. The expedition was headed by the sixth's inexperienced captain, Ju'Rhin, and was the first wave of a planned expansion of the Harakien Empire's sphere.

The information that the Harakiens had on Destino spoke of a lush and untamed world, but the Eldar were greeted by an unexpectedly organized force of soldiers bearing unknown markings. Ju'Rhin, eager to make a name for himself, sent the full force of his aerial division against the Imperial camps and devastated them with vicious bombardments. The swiftness of the assault was such that the Imperials had no time to respond. Surviving infantrymen were still scrambling to re-establish their communications when the next phase of the Harakien attack began. This second wave was low assault craft and the Eldar swiftly put their enemies to flight, taking large numbers of captives. Word was sent to the Sovereign Fleet of the startling new discovery of an apparently organized space-faring human empire.

While the militia and PDF formations disintegrated, many of the Aurrie troops escaped capture and fled into the thick jungles of Destino. Within that forbidding growth, bands of the 38th regrouped and prepared guerilla raids on their enemies. Captain Ju'Rhin ordered the forests cleared away. He would rout their foe through any means, but the 6th Division were unprepared for the nigh insurmountable task before them. Destino's jungles barely smoldered, requiring laborious clearing by hand - and supervising captive soldiers was not as easy as the Eldar had assumed. Sabotage within the logging camps sapped Ju'Rhin's command, while bands of Auron troopers skirmished with Harakien troopers in the undergrowth. Although they suffered great deprivation and heavy casualties, the courageous Aurries held up the Harakiens until the arrival of Lieutenant Uli Dreier's Squadron of Winged Victory Space Marines and several Demi-brigades of Ciban Chasseurs. The assault was like nothing that the Harakiens had ever seen. The power-armored foes before them astounding to behold, swifter and far more enduring than any human previously encountered. Even the ordinary soldiers accompanying them were more heavily-armed than expected, with powerful armoured vehicles, artillery, and aircraft. Out-numbered and out-gunned by the startling new Imperial reinforcements, the Eldar withdrew from Destino.

Dreier linked up with the surviving men of the 38th and debriefed them. His report back to the Fifth Legion was answered promptly with the dispatch of further reinforcements, including sappers recruited from the Markian Pact. These specialists were under instructions to fortify Destino. In the meantime, Dreier and his expanded command would probe the surrounding systems to assess the Xenos threat.

Early Exchanges[edit]

Captain Jeanne d'Orléans

A series of raids and counter-raids ensued. Although both sides built up their forces in this period, the Space Marines were largely absent from the initial phases of battle. Uli Dreier's squadron of one hundred space marines remained based at Destino, taking on key missions, but the bulk of the fighting in this phase was done by newly arrived first-line Imperial Army formations. The most decisive clash was in 968.M30 on the Desert World of Suferenta, where a mixed corps of Ciban Chasseurs and Markian troopers clashed with the Harakien 6th Advance Detatchment of the 3rd Division.

Both sides arrived at Suferenta without detecting the other, intending to scout the world and perhaps seize what opportunities they found. Only once the troops had debarked did the Harakien and Imperial naval forces engage briefly, then withdraw from the system thinking that the priority was to protect their transport vessels. On the ground, the opposing commanders quickly made contact near the world's main settlements. An early Harakien breakthrough resulted in the over-running of the Imperial Headquarters and the death of General Phillipe Anjours at the blade of the detachment commander, Zhir Nerantu. The Harakiens slaughtered the Imperial command company with swift and brutal efficiency. The detachment settled in to watch the results of their decapitation of the enemy.

To their shock, the human forces remained mobile and coordinated despite the loss of its headquarters. The breakthrough forces were quickly encircled and destroyed, before the Imperial army launched a rapid counter-attack, capitalising on their superior airpower. An airborne company of Ciban Chasseurs, led by the young Captain Jeanne d'Orléans, dropped in behind the Harakien lines and wreaked havoc in their rear area. Vids from this raid, and countless re-enactments, would become fodder for Imperial propaganda for decades to come. The Chassuers were a hand-picked elite force and contained a mix of veterans and the most promising candidates. Although they quickly ran low on ammunition the fates were with the Imperials. Scores of tanks, skimmers, and flyers had whipped sand into the atmosphere, dropping visibility to next to nothing. In the haze of this sentient-made sandstorm, the towering Captain d'Orléans and her elite drop-troopers took a bloody toll in hand-to-hand combat. The frenzied enemy commander, Nerantu led a desperate counterattack. Though he stood longer than the others, he was no match for the prowess of d'Orleans.

The Harakiens fought furiously, but their fate was sealed. If Jeanne d'Orléans claimed not to have made a count of the Eldar ended by her power sword, it was soon rumoured among the Imperial troops that the Captain had killed too many enemies to know their number. On the front at large, the terrible conditions were on the side of the army with the larger numbers and the greater armour. Despite the courage and skill of the Harakiens, they could not change the shape of the battlefield that had entrapped them. To their lasting credit they fought to the last and no prisoners were taken.

Naval clashes[edit]

The naval fighting in this period was at first dominated by inconclusive skirmishes. Harakien forces were reluctant to closely engage the heavy ships of the Imperium and their superior mobility made it difficult for Imperial captains to force the issue. A clash in the Malavaro system during 970.M30 saw the Winged Victory strike cruiser Persévérance heavily damaged by mines. In response to this incident, the Imperial Army dispatched Commander Isidora Lobo at the helm of the Grand Cruiser Repulse, leading a full cruiser squadron. Late in 971.M30, Lobo launched a long-distance probe deep into Harakien space.

4th Captain Sisyk Alovar met the Imperials at the Kurassan System in the north of the Harakien Sector. Alovar's fleet was the largest in the entire empire, besides that of the Void King himself, and the old captain was renowned throughout Harakien space for his skill in space combat. His battleship Talon led the strike. Alovar's entire fleet swept toward Lobo's squadron with unbelievable speed. The Imperials brought their weapons to bear, but the Eldar vessels vanished in a shimmer of light, leaving Lobo's ships to fire uselessly into empty space. A moment later, the Harakien fleet returned to reality directly above their foes. The Talon hung over the Repulse menacingly, then blasted it out of reality with a concentrated beam of darklight. The other ships in the Harakien fleet followed suit, cutting Lobo's squadron to pieces. Only the light cruiser Hunting Hawk, positioned to guard the underbelly of the Imperial fleet, limped away from the fight to report to Destino.

The Imperial Offensive[edit]

"The Geldens call them angels, and they are unlike any human I have seen, sovereign. As tall as one of our own, but thick and strong like a man. They come down from the void and bring only death and fire. They fight evenly against our own, I have never seen anything like it"

"It seems the rumors are true, then," Ku'Motsk said gravely, "If these void angels have come to our realm, then they must meet its king. Surely they did not think that these trespasses would be ignored. Prepare the men, we move for Gelden III"

(Excerpt from "The Glory of the Void King", traditional Harakien text)

The Aurries brought us time on Destino, and the Markians on Suferenta showed that the Eldar can be beaten. But the Great Crusade can't be completed with the Harakien Sector full of Xenos! Winged Victory are on their way - will you be with them?

(Recruitment vid, unknown Imperial origin. Part of the collection of the Gaspard Lumey Museum on Ciban IV)

In 970.M30, Marshal Louis-Davide de Lattre of the Markian Grand Corps had arrived on Destino and established an Army Group headquarters to coordinate the efforts of hundreds of Imperial regiments along the northern border of the Harakien sector. Along with his own staff, de Lattre was accompanied by Antoine Antonelle, the redoubtable second-in-command of Winged Victory. De Lattre's task of commanding the Imperial Army forces active against the Harakien was a real one, but he was also under secret orders to cooperate with Antonelle in preparing for the arrival of a vast force of Space Marines and auxilia from the Fifth Legion.

Antoine Antonelle was justly renowned as a patient man. He spent eighteen solar months preparing for the arrival of his master and battle brothers. Great stockpiles of ammunition were built up in secret, hidden in the shipments of construction materials for Destino's increasingly daunting fortifications. Phoney rotations were staged to conceal a build-up of Imperial Army forces. To further the appearance of disarray, de Lattre deployed a few regiments from a wide variety of different Imperial Army formations. Surviving records indicate the presence of Ardito Highwatch, Motroit Enforcers, and even Rosskan Strelky. Finally, in 972.M30, Gaspard Lumey's Expeditionary Fleet warped into the Destino system. The Primarch made a point of commending the heroic individuals and units of the Imperial Army's long struggle against the Eldar. Regiments such as the 38th Auron Infantry were awarded new banners as part of the moral preparation for an intensification of the war effort.

Sledgehammer[edit]

The Imperial Army carried out simultaneous offensives all along the border. Harakien listening posts were assaulted by elite commando units. Advance bases were overwhelmed by army-strength formations. The frontier colonies of Rhenn'in, Koerendel and Geswyn faced army groups, the handful of Advance Detatchments of the 3rd Fleet stationed there gathered in a storm. The 8th Expeditionary Front of the Kondrus Aeroguard at Koerendel faced the toughest opposition, the 2nd Advance Detachment were noted saboteurs and hastily prepared for the Imperials' arrival. Harakien jetfighters, the skilled pilots of the 2nd and 3rd Razorwing Squadrons, pushed the Kondrans into position. The gambit destroyed a full corps of Aeroguard during the initial landing and kept the Kondrans grounded during the first five days of the campaign. Though they whittled away at the opposition, it only served to delay the inevitable. Even after losing over a hundred thousand men, the Aeroguard outnumbered their opponents by twenty to one. Realizing too late the scale of the disaster, the sentinels of the Harakien frontier were nearly wiped out by the Imperium's elephantine offensive. The battered remains of the 3rd Squadron of the 2nd Advance Detachment escaped into space. After days of futile attempts to contact the 3rd Division, they delivered the report of the terrible destruction wrought by the Imperial war machine.

Upon hearing of the unprecedented invasion, Ku'Motsk immediately summoned the full strength of his elite Sovereign Division. At his word, the widely spread specialist units of the Harakien army began gathering under his command at Ku Harai. While they mustered, The Void King ordered the 2nd and 6th Divisions of the Imperial Fleet to Gelden III to prepare a counter-offensive. The 1st, 3rd, and 5th divisions were set as home guard. Once the full strength of the Sovereign Division stood in the grand Harakien capital, Rhys, the Sovereign Fleet was split in a similar manner, with one-third sent to aid Alovar. The warriors of the division were likewise divided, and 10,000 men and hundreds of assault craft went along with Ku'Motsk and the Ur-Hierach Asmodae into the labyrinthine dimension of the webway. The Void King later remarked that he had been fool enough to laugh as he marched into battle.

Spearhead: The Gelden System battles[edit]

While Lumey rallied the troops, two of his most aggressive commanders swept past the frontier and launched a bold attack deep into Harakien territory. The Fifth's enfant terrible, Augustin Carron, headed a force of thirty thousand Astartes and sly Kesh Kanak commanded the naval operation. Evading contact with Eldar naval patrols, Winged Victory descended on the manufacturing world Gelden III. In addition to Carron's landing forces, Kanak had been tasked to deliver the Oriflamme, a "Ramillies"-class fortress to the Gelden system. This mighty weapon was intended to anchor the Imperial supply lines into Harakien space. If its presence could not be concealed, the sheer strength of its escort deterred any intervention by scratch forces. With Oriflamme in position, the Fifth Legion began dropping troops onto Gelden III. These Space Marines would be met head-on by the Harakien Empire. The elite soldiers of the Sovereign Division had arrive to strengthen the 2nd and 6th Division, led by 2nd Captain Silys Vath. A static defence against invasion was dismissed out of hand: Ku'Motsk planned a vigorous, three-pronged counter-offensive. Vath and his Sky-Reapers were to strike at the center of the enemy army. The Void King and Ur-Hierach split the remainder of the force between them and move into flaking positions. Although the Harakiens were aware of their inferiority in material, Ku'Motsk and his advisors counted on the boldness of their plan and the superiority of their warriors to carry the day.

The initial Harakien engagement with Winged Victory was in space, where Sisyk Alovar sought to take advantage of the withdrawal of the main Imperial fleet with a swift attack on the space station Oriflamme. This assault was carried out so swiftly that Kesh Kanak, lurking outside the Gelden system in anticipation of such a manoeuvre, still could not intervene in time to prevent Oriflamme from being crippled. As repair crews fought to save the giant station from complete destruction, the ships of Winged Victory appeared in the rear of the Eldar fleet, chasing after a deadly spread of torpedoes. But Sisyk Alovar was old and cunning, and deftly stepped the main body of his squadrons out of Realspace. Only a pair of unfortunate escorts were lost. With the Harakiens seemingly vanished, those few aboard the Oriflamme with the luxury of observing the space battle were perplexed to see the Imperial warships begin to roll. A few moments later, the purpose of this strange behaviour became clear. Sisyk Alovar's squadron popped back into existence, the Talon itself having moved to rake the belly of the mighty Resolve. As he looked up to see the Imperial flagship's broadside trained against his position, Alovar reacted instantly to order his crew back to the Webway. Only this split-second decision saved the Talon, though the first salvoes from the Resolve still killed a quarter of the ship's company and many more perished in the desperate repair effort that followed the battle. The rest of the Harakien fleet was far less fortunate. Though their manoeuvre was swift and their weapons were deadly, like their landlubber brethren they faced a foe with seemingly limitless resources. As an Eldar fleet painfully salvaged from the fall of their race was torn to pieces, Kazi Algaurizin of Al-Sherar idly calculated that the Fifth's battle losses would be replaced by 17044 minutes labour from all of the Imperium's Forge Worlds.

On the planet's surface, Ku'Motsk was grappling with the same problem. The Harakiens were facing thousands of Space Marines, led by an aggressive and capable commander, and Vath's assault had ground to an abrupt halt as soon as it had started. The Astartes they faced had not wavered, let alone split and routed under the pressure of the Sky-Reapers' assault as predicted. Augustin Carron's men leapt into battle as though they knew no fear, and their crude weapons were frighteningly effective. On hearing the reports of Vath's failure, the Void King was struck silent for a moment. Nevertheless, he directed Asmodae to lead his assault as planned. The Ur-Hierach and his elite klaivexes marched through their portal to meet their foe as Ku'Motsk and his forces did the same. The decisive moment had arrived. Not even the combination of the Emperor's miraculous science, the advanced technology of Mars, and Gaspard Lumey's own political-military preparation could create men able to hold off an envelopment by the elite forces of the Harakien Empire. Asmodae carved his way through the ranks of the Fifth Legion, if less slowly then he might have liked. Ku'Motsk's bodyguard took a no less bloody toll. Their combined fury began to split the Space Marines into separate groups, creating the possibility of a defeat in detail.

In contrast, the Imperials were not overly surprised by their foes' abilities. Antoine Antonelle's patient analysis had given the Fifth Legion an outstanding picture of the Harakien command and likely tactics. The initial drop-pod landing had been intended to draw out the defenders while a supporting force hurtled towards the surface on gunships. Although the Harakiens had attacked more successfully than anticipated and cut down the commander of the vanguard, Uli Dreier, the Fifth's reinforcements stabilised the lines and Augustin Carron had the liberty to contemplate his counter. He found it when reports came through that the Void King's own banner had been sighted. Carron - ever impetuous - directed his Thunderhawk to bring him to Ku'Motsk. The gunship raked the Eldar forces with its weapons, creating an opening for the Fifth Legion commander and his squad to disembark and engage.


A third choice

Honour dueling is not outside the traditions of the Harakien Empire. When Ku'Motsk saw a Space Marine wearing superior armour and bearing rank insignia bearing down on him, he saluted his foe and paid tribute to the Astartes' prowess by introducing himself to their ruler as he would to a near-equal. That the Mon-Keigh had the gall to laugh at this unparalleled honour was incendiary, but the flame of Ku'Motsk's anger was put out by Carron's chilling reply.

Foolish Xenos. I am not the master of my people, nor their champion, nor even one of their greatest warriors. While we cross blades here, my gene-father Gaspard Lumey - as superior to me as I am to the common human - travels across the void at the head of tens of thousands of my battle brothers. And he is but one of eighteen Primarchs at the command of the great Emperor of Mankind. Your petty empire is no more than a slight obstacle to humanity's ascendancy across the Galaxy. Win or lose today: you will be destroyed and forgotten.

These were prophetic words. Ku'Motsk swiftly bloodied his foe, but Augustin Carron drew the Void King close by accepting a severe wound. Once the Astartes got a firm grip, strength became more important than speed. Carron bludgeoned Ku'Motsk with his strong right hand, ruining the Eldar monarch's good looks and fighting ability alike. With victory all but ensured, the Space Marine took up his Power Sword for the coup de grace.